Image from Telling a Story vs. Storytelling

Welcome to our site dedicated to the art of storytelling, worldbuilding, and speculative fiction. We cover a range of genres and topics, from science fiction and fantasy to horror and adventure. Our mission is to inspire creativity and help writers and enthusiasts develop their skills and explore the worlds of their imagination.

Apologies for the broken links; the site is still new and under construction

Storytelling and myth-making

So, why this site?

Well, I’ve long been fascinated by the myth and imaginal world.

It is this inner, imaginal, and myth-making world that gives meaning to an existence in a universe that appears otherwise devoid of meaning. Hence by entering into stories, whether as creator or participant, one enacts the imaginal world, and thus enters a world of meaning, and more than that, a world of adventure and purpose.

The term storytelling is here used to refer to the creation and enaction of stories in the broadest sense. It might be something as sublime as creating an entire universe (an entire mythos or legendarium, complete with its own canon), in which one participates in an epic adventure by following the protagonists, or as banal as marketing a product in our world of consumerism and decadent late capitalism. Both are forms of storytelling.

So is, for that matter, any religion. As Joseph Campbell pointed out once, the only difference between, say, the stories of the Old Testament and any other myth, is that the former is believed (well, less so now with the rise of atheism) to be true, whereas the latter isn’t. In fact something of the opposite is the case; from an imaginational point of view, all myths (or stories) are true (or real), in that all of them enact an inner world of imagination and meaning. This is regardless of whether or not they are believed by social convention or institutional tradition to be true or not.

A history of storytelling

As the inner world is as real as the outer world, storytelling, the enactment of the inner world, is as old as humanity, if not older. Even before the advent of writing, people shared stories as a way of passing on cultural traditions, preserving historical events, and entertaining one another. Oral storytelling was the primary means of communication for many societies for thousands of years, and it remains an important part of many cultures today.

In ancient civilizations such as those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, storytelling was often linked with religious or mythological traditions. Epic poems like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey were passed down orally and played an important role in shaping cultural identity and transmitting moral values.

With the advent of writing, stories could be recorded and preserved more easily. The development of literature in ancient civilizations like China and India produced works of great artistic and philosophical merit, including the and the Mahabharata.

During the medieval period in Europe, storytelling continued to play a vital role in society. The troubadours of the Middle Ages traveled from place to place, reciting tales of chivalry, love, and adventure. The development of the printing press in the 15th century allowed stories to be reproduced and disseminated more widely than ever before, and the advent of the novel in the 18th century gave rise to a new form of storytelling that has become one of the most popular literary genres.

In the 20th century, new forms of media such as film, television, and video games have expanded the ways in which stories can be told. With the rise of the internet and social media, anyone with a smartphone or computer can become a storyteller and share their stories with a global audience.

the Kheper site, soon to be revised). I have written more on this subject in my book Mythopoesis and the Modern World.

The elements of storytelling

As I see it, every good, and especially an epic, story, has at least four elements: Plot, Narrative, Character-development, and (in the case of science fiction and fantasy) Worldbuilding.

Plot is the overall structure of the story. Whether it's Aristotle's guidelines on plot (poetics, mythos) or Joseph Campbell’s Hero's Journey, the plot is the overall framework on which the rest of the story hangs. It's been said that in the world of writing there's plotters and pantsers, I'm a pantser (write by the seat of my pants). But it's not that plotters are better than pantsers, or vice versa. And even in pantser stories, plots emerge in the end.

Narrative is the actual telling of the story.

Characters are the actors upon the stage.

Worldbuilding is the details of the universe the characters inhabit. In adventure, thriller, romance, crime, etc there isn't any worldbuilding apart from plot, narrative and character details because the story is set in this world. But science fiction and fantasy genres are defined by worldbuilding. The more realistic the created world or universe feels, the more satisfying and believable the story.

Finally, mention should be made of Genre, which is the type of story, and Tropes, which are recurring themes across different stories and even different genres.


Mythopoesis and the Modern World

My book, Mythopoesis and the Modern World is about stories and storytelling, and their relation to the individual and universal imagination.

To quote the synopsis, but including links to other pages here:

Mythopoesis is a Greek-derived word that means "myth-making." Mythopoeia was used by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien in reference to creative art about "fundamental things." Mythopoesis is, therefore, the creation of myth by means of the higher imagination. Thus, the creation of myth is also one of the highest forms of storytelling. In this way, myths and myth-making are a source of meaning for human consciousness, which exists at the junction of two vast worlds or realities: the external world known to science and empirical observation and the inner world described in myth, art, imagination, and phenomenology in general.

This inner world, the world of mythopoesis, is present in popular culture, such as novels, television, cinema, comic books, and computer games, in which archetypal themes have been re-shaped according to the understanding and worldview of contemporary authors and readers.

The inner world is not just an epiphenomenon of the brain. It is as extensive and autonomous as the outer world. To use the terminology of esotericist scholar Henry Corbin, it is an "Imaginal World," which is the intermediate or transitional reality between the mundane or everyday reality on the one hand and spiritual, noetic, and transcendent reality or realities on the other.

Mythopoesis and the Modern World draws inspiration from various authors, including (but not limited to) J. R. R. Tolkien, Henry Corbin, Joseph Campbell, Carl Gustav Jung, Sri Aurobindo, Mircea Eliade, Ken Wilber, and Jean Gebser. The book also studies mythopoesis and archetypes in the science fiction and fantasy genres in relation to mythological and metaphysical narratives.


Page by M Alan Kazlev, 2023